This blog was written by Dan Walker. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
Fasting is an ancient practice that is observed in nearly every religion and culture around the world. While many view it primarily as a spiritual discipline, numerous health benefits have been proposed as well. These range from helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol to the detoxification of the body. While many medical professionals and average people advocate fasting in some form, many others disagree.
Like many “alternative therapies” practiced throughout the world today, the jury still seems to be out on fasting and its health benefits. Many claim that it can help reverse diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol; improve the immune system; and help the body heal itself in numerous ways. Others claim that none of these things is proven and that fasting can actually be detrimental to one’s health.
Proposed Benefits of Fasting
Today I take a look at the benefits that those who are in favor of fasting have either witnessed or experienced themselves. In a future post, I'll address the opposite viewpoint.
- Detoxification: Detoxification is one of the most notable benefits of fasting that proponents mention. Those who support it say that since many of the toxins we store in our bodies are stored in fat, and more fat is burned during a multiday fast, it can serve as a way to help detoxify the body. It is believed to give the body rest and allow it to use for detoxification the energy normally used digesting food.
- Longevity: Another interesting idea is that fasting can actually help promote a longer life. Numerous studies in animals have found that subjects that periodically fasted and followed lower-calorie diets in the trials lived longer than their counterparts.
- Lower risk of diseases: A relationship between fasting and a lower risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s has also been found. Fasting proponents point to this as evidence that fasting directly leads to these health benefits, while opponents hold that though they are correlated, it doesn’t necessarily mean one causes the other.
Next time we’ll look at fasting and weight loss, a method many have tried over the years.
What's Your View on the Health Benefits of Fasting?
In the meantime, though, what’s your story? Have you ever fasted for physical or spiritual reasons, and if so, what was the outcome? There seem to be many on both sides of the fence when it comes to fasting.